MSC Cruises suspends trips over coronavirus fears, after sailing off on Monday

This statement came after a cruise ship left the port of Durban on Monday despite President Cyril Ramaphosa banning non-essential travel.

The MSC Musica. Picture:

KWAZULU-NATAL - Luxury leisure travel liner MSC Cruises said on Tuesday it's suspended all domestic departures for the 2019/2020 cruise season ending in April.

The company's luxury orchestra vessel sailed off from the port of Durban to the Mozambican islands on Monday, despite a ban on non-essential travel announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday.

Eyewitness News visited the port of Durban where hundreds of holidaymakers boarded the orchestra.

MSC Cruises assured all travellers on its ships that, despite Ramaphosa announcing a ban of gatherings of more than 100 people at a time, it received confirmation from the Health Department that malls, airports and cinemas were still operational. The trip received widespread media coverage when it left.

But, in a statement, the company said it would cancel all its trips from Tuesday. The company said the decision was taken to protect the health of its guests and crew members.

MSC managing director Ross Volk said, “We were seeking clarity yesterday from the Presidency and the ministry of health and from their recommendations we have decided to suspend the trips until next season.”

Volk says all guests who haven't yet travelled will be given a voucher which they can redeem over the next cruise season which starts in November.

It stated all guests who had not yet travelled would be given a voucher that they can redeem over the next cruise season, which begins in November.

To track the latest developments around the coronavirus both in South Africa and abroad, click on this live status report from Strategix.

(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng)

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